(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court handed President Obama a major legal and political victory by upholding the Affordable Care Act Thursday.
The key provision goes into effect 18 months from now, when every American who can afford it must buy health insurance or face a penalty.
It's sure to have an impact on the November election, and both the president and the presumptive Republican nominee for his job, Mitt Romney, were quick to put their own spin on the ruling.
The court's reasoning gave them plenty of material.
That the high court in the end upheld the individual mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act - the requirement that all Americans get health insurance - was not a complete surprise.
What was unexpected: the logic the court used to get there.
And it may well affect the politics of this heated election year.
It appeared to be a huge win for the White House. By a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal members of the court to uphold the individual mandate, ruling the fine for not buying insurance was essentially a tax, and saying Congress has the authority to tax the American people.
But the legal victory may not be a political win.
Republicans seized on the "taxation" language, arguing Mr. Obama was just imposing a secret tax.
Romney said, " 'Obamacare' raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion."
"What we now have is the biggest tax increase in the history of the world," Rush Limbaugh told his listeners. " ... Obama lied to us about that."
"This is about a trillion dollar more tax put on the American people," Fox News contributor Sarah Palin said.
When Congress was debating the law, Democrats - the president among them - insisted it wasn't a tax increase.
"For us to say that you've got to take responsibility and get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase," Mr. Obama insisted on "ABC This Week" in September 2009.
But the ruling that the healthcare law effectively levies a tax isn't a rationale the Obama administration wants to hear with a bad economy.
The president said Thursday he remained focus on implementing the law, because it was good policy.
"It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics," he remarked. "I did it because I believed it was good for the country."
But the decision is firing up the GOP base, and Romney vowed Thursday that he is now the one person who can still stop the law, saying, "I will act to repeal 'Obamacare.'"
Romney supported and signed a similar mandate at the state level when he was governor of Massachusetts. But he says that's different - because states have more power on these issues than the federal government.
Romney's Massachusetts record on health care is something you can expect Democrats to bring up during the election.
Republicans are using the ruling to fire up their base. And it seems to be working.
Romney and the Republican Party brought in $4.2 million Thursday from 42,000 donors.
The penalty portion of the law breaks down this way:
Beginning in 2014, families who don't have health insurance will be charged $285.
That penalty will increase to $975 in 2015, and in 2016, $2,085, or 2.5 percent of your income, whichever is greater.
The penalty is expected to affect around 4 million people every year.
The law also provides subsidies for people who cannot afford insurance on their own.
To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.